GRAND BANK, N.L.
It’s a crisp evening in Grand Bank on Nov. 30 and a warmly bundled group of people of all ages are gathering under a streetlight in the parking lot at the Blue Crest Nursing Home, candles in hand waiting to be lit.
The crowd grows bit by bit until it numbers the better part of a hundred, allaying the worries of organizers who wondered if anyone would show. There’s a festive feeling in the air and people are merry and jovial.
Christmas caroling is officially back in Grand Bank.
Many people of a certain vintage will remember Christmas caroling as a popular activity in Grand Bank years ago before it eventually faded.
The Salvation Army Band, in particular, would make the rounds, filling the air with the sounds of the season.
George Cornish, who grew up in the town, remembers it.
He came up with the idea to bring caroling back and brought it to his colleagues in the newly formed Grand Bank Hospitality Association. The inclusion of candles served as a memorial to loved ones who have passed on, he explained.
Cornish recently moved back to Grand Bank and purchased the historic Thorndyke bed and breakfast.
He was involved in starting a similar event some 30 years ago in Niagara-on-the-Lake, in Ontario, where he previously lived, he told The Southern Gazette.
“(Caroling is) an old tradition here in Grand Bank. It’s been around forever. A lot of it was done through the churches, and different groups through the churches. That’s why I thought it would be a great success here,” Cornish said.
The carolers finish their first songs, including a rendition of the now 200-year-old Silent Night, for seniors inside the nursing home and jubilantly stroll down Hickman Street to their next destination.
They’re called to come over.
Henry Lee and his wife Georgie are bundled up in their wheelchairs on their step. The elderly couple have made a special effort to see the carolers.
“I spent all my life playing carols in the Salvation Army Band, every Christmas,” 91-year-old Henry tells The Southern Gazette.
He’s thrilled to see people caroling again.
“Yes, I enjoyed it,” he said. “Wonderful.”